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Dakota Resource Council to protest oil transport, rail congestion

Members of the Dakota Resource Council are protesting against the transportation of crude oil by train today in Grand Forks. (Luke Franke/Grand Forks Herald)

Dakota Resource Council members will hold a protest at 3:30 p.m. today in both Emerado, N.D., and at the Amtrak station on DeMers Avenue in Grand Forks.

The protests aim to raise awareness about concerns regarding transporting Bakken crude oil by rail and the difficulties farmers face shipping their products because of congestion caused by trains carrying that oil.

“We shouldn’t have to bow down to the oil industry,” Dakota Resource Council member Dustin Seher said. “We shouldn’t have to have one industry preferred at the expense of the other one.”

Protestors plan on displaying a large sign to show their opposition to the changes happening on the state’s railroads.

The sign council members will post in both cities will say something along the lines of “Stop Bakken Bomb Trains DOT-111.”

DOT-111 refers to the type of train car used to transport crude oil in the United States and Canada.

Taking action

After witnessing a series of Bakken oil train crashes in both the United States and other countries and delayed shipments to North Dakota farmers, Dakota Resource Council members in Grand Forks decided to take action.

Council member Todd Leake said he is particularly upset about problems congestion on the railroads has brought wheat farmers.

“This is becoming a fight between (agriculture) and the energy sector in this state and apparently agriculture is losing out,” he said. “This is costing farmers and farming communities throughout North Dakota a lot of money.

“We have to take a step back and see what these railroads were built for.”

A recent study by North Dakota State University found that delaying shipments of grains has already cost North Dakota farmers $66.6 million in lost sales as of May.

Another $100 million is predicted to be lost by the end of the year. The estimates only include spring wheat, corn and soybeans sales.

The number of people expected to speak out about these and other problems at today’s protests is unknown.

“I doubt a lot of people will show up in Grand Forks tomorrow,” Leake said. “But never underestimate it. A small group of people can change the world.”